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Cape Town - With the coloured vote in the Western Cape again at stake, political parties have gone into early election overdrive before next year’s general elections as they try to secure votes in the hotly contested suburb of Mitchells Plain.
And while it’s still months before the 2014 general elections, electioneering is already in full swing as political parties take to the streets to attract voters.
The DA, with party provincial bigwigs - party leader Ivan Meyer, MECs Albert Fritz, Dan Plato, Donald Grant, Alan Winde, Bonginkosi Madikizela - and DA MPs hit the campaign trail in Mitchells Plain on Monday.
Meyer said the initiative was part of the DA’s pre-election campaign aimed at serving the communities and ensuring that they had an opportunity to engage with the party leadership.
“This is part of the DA’s visibility campaign. We’ve done our work in Parliament, the laws we’ve passed are already in the parliamentary phases and while the ANC is busy throwing toilets around, we are supporting voters with their needs and their questions,” Meyer said.
The provincial DA leader said there was no doubt in his mind that Mitchells Plain would again give the party the thumbs-up in next year’s elections.
“The DA is a healthy, active party here in Mitchells Plain. Our councillors are doing excellent work. The DA is here because we really care for the people. The ANC has nothing to offer the people - they only steal money,” Meyer added.
Mitchells Plain consists of nine wards, which were all under DA control.
“Here’s not one ANC ward in this area. We are focusing on the DA’s service delivery track record in the area, we are connecting with the local councillors and voters, and we are bringing the message that we need a new national government by 2019 - and that’s why next year is such an important elections: because there’s only two elections left before there’s a new government in the Union Buildings,” Meyer said.
The DA leader said that during their walk-about, residents complained mostly about drugs ruining the lives of the youth, crime and housing.
Meyer said that in Mitchells Plain there were, on average, about 300 000 youth who were eligible to vote and the DA was hard at work to get those votes. “According to the statistics, there area about 500 000 people in Mitchells Plain but we know there are a lot more,” he said.
Meyer said the party would also look at launching a skills and bursary fair in the area to target unemployed youths who wanted to further their education.
DA MP Lennit Max said the DA had every reason to remain confident in the Western Cape.
“The DA has delivered to the people. If you vote for the DA you are voting for a better life, better services and anti-corruption. The Western Cape is totally different from all the other provinces because here, all departments are better managed and there’s better service delivery,” he said.
“We’ve been working consistently with the youth in the area. We will get the vote because people can see what we have been doing,” the MEC said.
But the DA was not the only party actively mobilising in Mitchells Plain. The ANC has also been wheeling out the big guns in the Western Cape, including President Jacob Zuma himself, in its battle to snatch back control of the province from the DA next year.
ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa also hit the campaign trail in Beacon Valley and Tafelsig at the end of July, telling residents that the doomsday prophets who claimed the ANC would never win Mitchells Plain might be in for a surprise.
“I think we stand a chance, we can take Mitchells Plain. I feel we could record a 50-to 60-percent chance of taking Mitchells Plain,” he told supporters. The ANC was sceptical of the DA’s sudden interest in Mitchells Plain, saying they had “noticed that the DA is suddenly sending out their MECs while they have literally been invisible since the 2009 elections”.
Achmat Semaar, parliamentary office administrator for Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, who the ANC had deployed to Mitchells Plain previously, said the DA seemed quite desperate.
“Since 2009, when minister Manuel and Deputy International Relations and Co-operation Minister Marius Fransman were deployed as ANC MPs, they have put in consistent work among the youth and other sectors in Mitchells Plain.
“Over 2 000 learners have been assisted in accessing skills opportunities, learnerships and bursaries from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme ( NSFAS),” he said.
Semaar said the pair had organised post-school opportunities seminars for the matrics and unemployed youth since 2010, and held an education summit the same year which sparked the establishment of the Mitchells Plain Education Forum.
Semaar said that since last year, the ANC had assisted 16 pupils, one from each high school in Mitchells Plain, with a bursary from funds raised from donors.
“People can see who has been working consistently since 2009. When residents have problems, often ANC and DA supporters, they come to our office for help, not the DA. It is about serving our communities consistently, not opportunistically claiming victories like the DA is belatedly trying to do,” he added.